How Much Screen Time for Kids Is Too Much?

How Much Screen Time for Kids Is Too Much?

Are you worried that your child is addicted to screens? They may have a smartphone and a tablet; and if they’re in middle school or high school, they’ve got a laptop. A recent Pew Research Center study reported that 71% of parents of a child under the age of 12 say they are at least somewhat concerned their child might ever spend too much time in front of screens, including 31% who are very concerned.

Board-certified Dr. Ugonma Okparaocha with Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center treats the whole child so that your loved one can thrive in all aspects of life. Following are helpful guidelines that give you a roadmap for managing your child's screen time.

How much screen time is too much?

We follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics when it comes to screen time. Your baby shouldn’t be sitting in front of a screen. For children ages 2-5, we recommend limiting screen time to one hour a day of high-quality educational programming.

In general, children and teens in the United States today spend too much time on screens. On average, children ages 8-12 spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours

Your growing child needs at least one hour of physical activity every day. In addition, your child needs adequate sleep: 8-12 hours of sleep nightly, depending on their age. Screen time and digital technology should be balanced with other activities, including creative play, reading, and socializing.

Harmful effects of too much screen time

Too much time in front of the TV and other screens can lead to negative physical, psychological, social, and neurological consequences such as the following:

Obesity

Childhood obesity is an epidemic. Too many hours and days spent watching TV and playing video games while eating high-calorie snacks can lead to weight gain. Physical activity is important for good health in your growing child or teen.

Irregular sleep

Does it take forever for your child to go to sleep once they’re in bed? Exposure to light from screen devices can disrupt sleep and lead to poor sleep quality. In fact, children who sleep with their mobile devices are at increased risk of insomnia.

Behavioral issues

A study in JAMA Psychiatry notes that maladaptive behaviors such as aggression and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are associated with children’s excessive use of handheld devices and computers or TV viewing.

Poor academic performance

When children under 12 have TVs in the bedroom, research shows by and large they perform more poorly on tests than children who don’t have screens in the bedroom. Studies note that when children and adolescents spend a large amount of time on screens, academic performance declines.

Violence

Too many hours of seeing people hurt other people on TV and in video games can desensitize children to violence. They may become numb or insensitive to violent behavior and think that it’s an acceptable way to solve problems.

What you can do to limit screen time

Here are some actions you can take to restrict screen time:

As with all other aspects of parenting, ensuring your child’s digital health requires diligence and a balanced approach.

If you have questions about your child’s screen time and for all of your children’s pediatric needs, call Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland or request an appointment via our online portal

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